It is not easy to work for decades in a job many do not take readily.
Ri Ok Hui, however, has been working as cobbler at the Sariwon City Public Service Management Station in North Hwanghae Province for nearly three decades.
The 61-year-old started mending shoes in her early 30s.
At that time she was a workteam leader at a county soybean paste and sauce factory, so after moving to Sariwon following her husband who was promoted to a provincial-level official, she hoped to work at a foodstuff factory.
But her husband Ri Ho Song asked her to work as cobbler as residents in the city felt inconvenience since there were not enough shoe repairers there.
Therefore, she became cobbler out of deference to her husband with a high social position and also from a sense of duty. But it was not an easy job.
By mistake, the beginner hammered her fingers to get them swollen and cut her hand with a knife to bleed.
She had her blind mother-in-law and adopted orphans to support.
“What distressed me the most was to see customers dissatisfied with my poor workmanship, rather than handling household affairs. I feared I wouldn’t be able to do my job properly. And my children complained about my job,” recalled Ri Ok Hui.
She would walk a long way to collect used tyre or rubber as materials were insufficient.
“In a Korean language lesson, our teacher got us to write a composition about our pride in our mothers. But I presented to the teacher blank paper. And I often vexed our mother, asking her why she mended shoes though our father was a provincial official,” said her daughter Ri Hye Yong.
But Ri Ok Hui drew great encouragement from customers who were pleased with the mended shoes and appreciated her work and she came to regard her job that she began from a sense of duty as an absolutely necessary and excellent thing that brings pleasure to people.
She would call on skilled hands to acquire skills and devoted all her thoughts and wisdom to shoe repair as she disassembled and reassembled the shoes of her husband and children time and again.
In the course of this, she increased the shoe repair indexes to more than 30 and repaired tens of thousands of pairs of shoes.
She provided people with mobile, order and delivery services and offered war veterans and disabled soldiers repair service free.
In recognition of her devoted and unassuming service the state conferred on her the title of Merited Welfare Service Repairer and Central Meritorious Person of Socialist Patriotism.
She also received a gold ring bearing the name of Chairman Kim Jong Il.